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District and Circle

4.08  ·  Rating Details  ·  670 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
District and Circle inhabits the eerie new conditions of a menaced twenty-first century. In their haunted, almost visionary clarity, the poems assay the weight and worth of what has been held in the hand and in the memory. Scenes from a childhood spent far from the horrors of World War II are colored by a strongly contemporary sense that "Anything can happen," and other
Paperback, 96 pages
Published April 3rd 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published January 1st 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,174)
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Sep 09, 2013 Rick rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
The poet’s death on August 30, 2013, prompted me to search through my piles and shelves of unread books to see if perchance I had one more collection of Seamus Heaney’s poetry that I hadn’t yet devoured. For the moment I ignored the long shelf of read Heaney. After some searching I found District and Circle, his next to last collection, from 2006. So I began reading (and then pulled down the previously read Opened Ground, Selected Poems 1966-1996 (1998) and the two other collections published af ...more
Nov 29, 2008 Dirk rated it it was amazing
These are somewhat difficult poems to read at first. They are not difficult because of encyclopedic obscure references, like, say, Pound, or because of solipsistic personal references like, say, John Ashbury, or because of meterless syntactic and semantic experimentation like so much contemporary poetry. The syntax is strictly gramatic, but constantly requires and rewards your full attention, like a stony path. There are many obscure, but always concrete and evocative words, drawn mostly form th ...more
Mar 03, 2015 Chris rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
I liked the other Heaney collection I read better. However, the found prose collection is pretty good as is the poem dedicated to Ted Hughes
Malcolm Hebron
Aug 06, 2015 Malcolm Hebron rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, visionary poetry (why does the blurb say 'almost visionary'? What does that even mean?) which transforms the world even as it describes it. An old fireman's helmet, a turnip shredder, a coal scuttle, a harrow pin - ordinary objects become the focal points of memory and rewarders of the spirit's attention. A triptych of poems in memory of Czeslaw Millosz describes a man in a Belfast doorway playing saw music, a music that Milosz 'would not have renounced, however paltry'. And Heaney ad ...more
Dave Maddock
Sep 25, 2015 Dave Maddock rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Modern poetry is a hard and unforgiving art. Eschewing rhyme, meter, and well-worn structure puts the focus so much more on other aspects of poetic diction such as metaphor, motif, evocative mood, or word choice. When one of those strikes you in the face, it can be really something but when those don't work (in both the objective and subjective sense), it can be really dissatisfying.

This collection had a few gems (for example, Helmet, The Tollund Man in Springtime, or The Blackbird of Glanmore),
Grady Ormsby
Aug 18, 2015 Grady Ormsby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: poetry lovers
The Edgeware Road Station on the London Underground marks the convergence of the Circle Line with the District Line. It is also the sight of the July, 2005, terrorist bombings. In District and Circle by Seamus Heaney there is a convergence of many circles, youth to old-age, rural to urban, mechanical to electronic, fleeting to eternal, concrete to abstract, familiar to distant. In a strong lyric voice Heaney presents a grounded realism that keeps the images from being mere abstractions. In his N ...more
Owen Lucas
Jan 10, 2016 Owen Lucas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
This collection seemed at first a little sparse and disparate in theme, and in terms of language I felt in the early poems that Heaney was running over a lot of the same territory he covered in the 70s. However, as it progressed into its second "movement" (if that's the right word), in every poem from the new "Tollund Man" onward, District and Circle attacked fresh and new thematic terrain, and in terms of versification went quite far afield of much of Heaney's canon. "In a Loaning" was a four-l ...more
Oct 29, 2013 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Really, what're you gonna say, the guy's a fecking Nobel laureate. I was lost in some of the first poems, not knowing the terminology (Irish or rural or both). The language is so musical, though. Jaysus.
Patricia Murphy
May 20, 2014 Patricia Murphy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Gorgeous imagery here--pastoral and transcendent all at once. Those turnips in the shredder! Oh my.

Some of my favorite moments:

“The strongest of the world’s

“heaven enough
to be going on with.”


“Hay being coaxed in handfuls from a ruck.”

“Q. Do you renounce the world?
A. I do renounce it.”

“every warm, mouth-watering word of mouth.”

“she was in the swim of herself.”

“For the splitter-splatter
guttering rain-flirt leaves.”

“Think of dark matter in the starlit coalhouse.”
Oct 21, 2012 Jaimie rated it did not like it
When I first read Seamus Heaney's poetry I was blown away. His artful use of dialogue, rhythm, annd description are the perfect tools for crafitng poetry. Yet, I felt that this collection fell short of my expectations. His telltale skills are still present, but I felt that the scope of the subject of this collection was far too broad. He focuses on "normal" life in Ireland, but he stretches it all the way from the legendary Tollund Man (a historical subject) to modern city infrastructures. The d ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Critics describe Heaney's newest book of poetry as original, startling, authentic, even supernatural__and his strongest collection in two decades. Reminiscent of his earliest collections in its earth-and-labor-centered vision, this volume is all the wiser with hindsight. While displaying a similar sensitivity toward humans, the same lyricism (a subway strap is "a stubby black roof-wort"), and a familiar down-to-earth attitude, District and Circle also asks questions about our impact on Earth. L

Jan 28, 2015 Natasha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I'm not even going to try and pretend that I know anything about poetry. Maybe I didn't get any hidden meanings or symbolism in the poems but there was something about the way they were written that makes the words just flow smoothly off the pages :)
Nov 14, 2010 Barbara rated it really liked it
I pattini di Wordsworth

Stella alla finestra.
Raschiare d'ardesia.
Uccello o ramo?
O l’affilatura e la folata dell’acciaio sul placido ghiaccio?

Non i pattini senza stivaletti caduti
nella polvere di una bacheca,
gli attacchi svaniti,

ma il loro vorticare sul Windermere ghiacciato
mentre sfrecciava dalla presa della terra lungo una svolta
lasciandola segnata.

Gara di taglio

Da fuori tonfi d'ascia
come un battere d'onde
sul traghetto notturno:
a cui m'attacco, stacco,
spaccando legna.
Everett Darling
Dec 22, 2015 Everett Darling rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
"...for a second
I've a bird's-eye view of myself,
A shadow on raked gravel
In front of my house of life."
Dec 11, 2015 Leslie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I found the last third of this collection to be the best. The first third I didn't much care for but I may have just not been in the right mood for them.
Apr 30, 2014 Whitepixels rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Recommended by a friend; a solid collection of poems.
Chris Michel
Well, I mean. It's good. It's solid. Some of it feels a bit.. writer's exercize-y. But it's filled with the kind of lively word-play, and contrapuntal rhythms that really made him famous. For instance:

Sun on ice,
white floss
on reed and bush,
the bridge-iron cast
in an Advent silence
I drove across,

-- from Nonce Words

And there's lots of Ireland in it. It's hard not to at least like most of the poems. But then bits like Fiddleheads make you wonder if he's just filling space, just phoning it in.
Jul 18, 2010 Brian added it
I came to Heaney primarily through the recommendations in my reading of Ted Hughes. He does not disappoint. Plain, hard-hitting lyricism, such as in:
"So deeper into it, crowd-swept, strap-hanging,/ My lofted arm a-swivel like a flail,/ My father's glazed face in my own waning/ And craning..."
"District and Circle", last section). And Hughes's sense of the natural, rural world, meshed with the internal, as in: "My heavy head. Bronze-buffed. Eat to the ground./ My eye at turf level. Its snailskin l
Chris Hall
May 18, 2008 Chris Hall rated it it was amazing
Heaney grapples with the clash of the urban and the rural, the ancient and the modern in this, his latest book of poetry. I wouldn't recommend this book to someone new to Heaney's work, as it is much less accessible than some of his earlier works, but after some time to reflect on this book and compare it to his others, I have to say that District and Circle is among my favorites.

If you're looking for a place to start with Heaney though, Death of a Naturalist is a much better place to begin.
Jan 31, 2015 Isobel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, read-in-2014
Although I really liked the concept of the collection, the connection between past and present and the bleakness of an industrial future, I found it was really lacking in the emotion that I like to drive the poetry I read. A few poems touched me, but overall it really fell short of the mark and felt more like it was written for the sake of writing rather than being a collection written from the heart.
Mar 29, 2014 Larry rated it it was amazing
Its a challenge to read anything by Seamus right now and I am unsure when it will be easy, his death seems to be something I don't wish to acknowledge or believe to be true. I will mark this as read right now but I haven't read it all. Most likely all of my library of his works will for now remain unopened for awhile longer because I am in denial! Seamus who will be our poet now?
Apr 18, 2015 Marcy rated it really liked it
I think these recent poems of Heaney's are compelling, especially the way he makes the ordinary imbued with extraordinary features. But I quite prefer his earlier poems when the themes dealt more concretely with Irish mythology, history, and politics. Nevertheless, his sparse and crisp images are intriguing and beautiful.
Steve Carpenter
Jun 30, 2007 Steve Carpenter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: If you like Irish Lit...
Heaney, in his usual erudite, yet earthy and humble way has done it again. Another wonderful collection of poetry from the poet laureate. I especially enjoyed Anahorish 1944, a description of soldiers marching fro Normandy and The Blackbird of Glanmore which is reminiscent of Mid-Term Break.
Sep 18, 2007 Mary rated it liked it

Interesting poems with a quaint take on the everyday. Borrowing from both his childhood during WWII and contemporary life, Heaney has a completely fresh and colloquial relationship with language here. Some of the poems get too tangled up in wordplay, but never fail to keep you intrigued.
Dec 29, 2013 Zjhzcyh rated it it was amazing
I have to admit that the image created by Heaney is vivid ,and though the themes themselves are not difficult to understand,the way he used to express is just so good.
Aug 25, 2013 Jennifer rated it really liked it
A very satisfying slim volume, enhanced by a beautiful cover featuring a blackbird, apparently a detail from a portrait of the poet and referencing a poem in the collection. A wonderful beautiful but often smile producing way with words.
Aug 01, 2011 SmarterLilac rated it it was amazing
While I expected to give this a hearty skim-through at the Borders closing sale, I wound up really enjoying this. Heaney's ability to craft textured verse on meaningful topics sets him apart from his contemporaries.
Sep 19, 2010 Steven rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
What I enjoy about Heaney is the compound nouns. Here's some from this collection: spot-rooted, shock-fast, street-loud, herd-quiet, flicker-lit, hackle-spikes, sleet-gilt, boulder-milt, grey-gristed, and bog-dough.
Frederick Gault
Dec 30, 2012 Frederick Gault rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Seamus Heaney first came to my attention when I saw him speak in college. His work swept me away and I carried around a xeroxed copy of one of his poems for years. He is one of the greats.
Michael Colyott
Jul 26, 2008 Michael Colyott rated it really liked it
What can I say about Seamus Heaney that has not already been said? I recommend reading this collection slowly and repeatedly for maximum effect . . . you'll see what I mean.
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Poetry Readers Ch...: District and Circle, by Seamus Heaney 3 22 Oct 13, 2013 04:02PM  
  • Dart
  • Poems 1968-1998
  • In a Time of Violence: Poems
  • Fire to Fire
  • 1,000 Years of Irish Poetry
  • Collected Poems
  • The Wellspring
  • Of Mutability
  • Metaphysical Dog
  • Scar Tissue: Poems
  • Behind My Eyes [With CD]
  • Kid
  • Belfast Confetti
  • Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis
  • White Egrets
  • Selected Poems and Four Plays
  • Time and Materials
Seamus Justin Heaney was an Irish poet, writer and lecturer from County Derry, Ireland. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995, "for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past."

Heaney on Wikipedia.
More about Seamus Heaney...

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“If self is a location, so is love:
Bearings taken, markings, cardinal points,
Options, obstinacies, dug heels, and distance,
Here and there and now and then, a stance.”
“I want away to the house of death, to my father under the low, clay roof.” 4 likes
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